Politics

There Are More Male MPs Right Now Than The Total Number of Female MPs Ever

We have a way to go yet in terms of gender equality.

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You might think we've come a long way in terms of gender equality in Britain. But let's look at the situation in the House of Commons.

Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

That's 148 women vs 502 men. Oh. And, by the way, there have only been 370 female MPs in the Commons since the first was elected in 1918. You don't even reach that number if you double the number of current sitting female MPs.

Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

That's 148 women vs 502 men. Oh. And, by the way, there have only been 370 female MPs in the Commons since the first was elected in 1918. You don't even reach that number if you double the number of current sitting female MPs.

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Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

That's 148 women vs 502 men. Oh. And, by the way, there have only been 370 female MPs in the Commons since the first was elected in 1918. You don't even reach that number if you double the number of current sitting female MPs.

Part of the problem is arguably that politics has been so male-dominated for so long that it has created an unwelcoming environment for female politicians.

PA Archive/Press Association Images John Stillwell

Conservative MP Mary Macleod, who chairs the all-party group for women in parliament, told The Telegraph in June: "The behaviour in the Commons is off-putting to most women. It's not that we can't hack it – but we don't want to put up with it.

"It's often that people don't think about what they say. Or it's that they've always done it that way and been working in a male-dominated environment for so long. Some of it is subtle. If we want to encourage women from all backgrounds [to enter politics], it's important we change the culture and make it more professional."

She isn't alone in this view. Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, has described Prime Minister's Questions as a "very, very testosterone-fuelled" environment.

She told the BBC: "Anything that people can use as a tool to put people off their stride, they will do, whether that's your weight, which team you support, your gender, or your sexuality, you'll hear those comments."

And the new party on the block looks like it's going to stick with the precedent set by other parties.

Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

UKIP thinks it has a high chance of winning in at least five constituencies – and it only has one non-male candidate. You might even say it's following in the footsteps of the establishment...

  1. As a percentage, how many MPs do you think are women? Take a guess:

    10%
    20%
    22.5%
    27.2%
    35%
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Although we appear to be moving towards more gender parity, women have never made up more than a quarter of MPs.

    You can see a larger version of the graph here.

    Although we appear to be moving towards more gender parity, women have never made up more than a quarter of MPs. Siraj Datoo / BuzzFeed News

There Are More Male MPs Right Now Than The Total Number of Female MPs Ever

The Conservative parliamentary candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood told BuzzFeed News that she wants a more "natural process" of bringing more women into parliament.

Resham Kotecha / Via Twitter: @ReshamKotecha

Resham Kotecha said: "I personally think it's better to have it as a slightly slower but more natural process where women want to do it rather than all-women shortlists, which I personally, as a candidate, feel would undermine my authority."

All-women shortlists are where political parties only allow women to put themselves forward in the selection process in certain constituencies, in order to encourage more gender parity.

"I would much rather know that I was selected because I was the best person for the job rather than because the association was forced to discount half the applicants," she said.

Kotecha, who currently works as an economics adviser to Brooks Newmark MP, who recently resigned from the cabinet, conceded that the lack of women could have a detrimental impact on democracy.

She plays an active role in Women2Win, an organisation that looks to get more women elected in parliament. She said: "Women have different points of views and experiences to men, which means if you have a huge proportion of the public underrepresented, obviously their views and interests are underrepresented.

"It's useful to have women in the party to show that we don't just create policies that are good for women but because we want women involved because we're a stronger democracy when we have better representation."

She put some blame on the media for treating women differently to men, pointing to the example of the Daily Mail creating a mock catwalk when the Conservative party brought more women into the cabinet.

In contrast, Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, is a strong advocate of all-women shortlists.

Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Like MacLeod, Creasy is a vocal politician who thinks political parties should do more to encourage more women in parliament.

In a debate with her colleague Austin Mitchell on BBC's Newsnight this summer, she said: "It's countries that are more equal that are more prosperous. ... Getting more women into positions of leadership [and] having more diverse decision-making is good for everyone."

All statistics come from the House of Commons Library and Information Centre and have been updated to reflect recent by-elections and defections.

Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at siraj.datoo@buzzfeed.com.

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